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Sunday, March 11, 2018

2018 Audi A8 Review

2018 Dodge Challenger Review
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The 2018 Audi A8 is a luxurious full-size new car that's decidedly old school. It's comfortable and quiet, but lacking new self-driving features.

MSRP: From $83,475

Horsepower: 333 to 450 hp

MPG: Up to 19 city / 29 highway

Dimensions: 207″ L x 77” W x 58″ H

Curb weight: 4,464 to 4,673 lbs

Bad news: The 2018 Audi A8 is a full-size luxury sedan that’s a relative dinosaur compared to the newer, flashier versions from other automakers. Good news: People still love to look at dinosaurs.

This year, the full-size flagship stands pat with a few optional extras added. Next year, a new 2019 Audi A8 arrives with sharper styling and it resolves our biggest gripe with this year's car: self-driving tech that helps a driver.


All versions of the A8 now can be equipped with an executive package that trims the back seat like a first-class airline cabin. The high-performance S8, which we cover separately, is the only way to get an A8 with a short wheelbase.

Despite its age, the A8 has managed to stay relevant and competitive with offerings from BMW and Mercedes thanks to its conservative shape and space-age aluminum frame that is both light (a boon to performance) and strong (helpful for safety).

The A8 is available only in long-wheelbase configuration for now, which is comfortable to drive or be driven in.

Most will find that the rear seats are the best seats in the house, with which we wholeheartedly agree. When outfitted with this year’s Executive Plus rear seating package, the A8 swaddles with available heated and cooled rear seats, entertainment options, and even in-seat massagers.

Styling
What the 2018 Audi A8 may lack on the outside it gets back, and more, on the inside.
The 2018 Audi A8 now looks handsome, but aged. It’s inside is anything but.

Full-size luxury sedans usually restrain their exterior flair, the A8 tackles it instead. Aside from drawn-out shoulders and LED headlights, the A8 won’t raise many eyebrows when it passes.

Inside—where it really matters—the A8 doesn’t disappoint. Clad with upscale materials such as wood, leather, aluminum, or a handful soft plastics, it’s clear that Audi designers have spent their time on the inside. The cockpit favors the driver, but the rear passengers are treated to something special. We’re convinced there isn’t a bad view from the inside out.

Who cares about the outside perspective? In that way, the Audi A8 is very “old money."

Performance
Flip a coin when deciding between the V-6 or the V-8, they’re both good in the Audi A8.

Audi has shelved half of the A8’s range of available powertrains from past years. The hulking W-12 is gone now because it was a slow-seller, the turbodiesel is gone for other reasons you may have heard of.

This year, the A8 comes equipped with a supercharged V-6 or a turbocharged V-8, both mated to a smooth shifting 8-speed automatic.

Starting with the supercharged V-6 under the hoods of 3.0T models, the A8 isn’t shy on power. It’s rated at 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, which is responsible for propelling the sedan up to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.

In tonier versions of the A8, a 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 slingshots the cruiser up to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Its 450 hp and 444 lb-ft don’t come cheaply; Audi asks $9,500 for the uprated version.

In either sedan, a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic does its best to keep the engines in their comfort zones. It works, in that the V-6 feels light and agile; the V-8 can be fairly fuel-efficient.

The A8 benefits from Audi’s all-wheel-drive system, which they call Quattro, and standard adaptive dampers. The all-wheel-drive running gear splits torque front to back at a 40/60 ratio at takeoff and can shift up to 60 percent of the power to the front tires. An optional sport package adds a rear sport differential in back, variable ratio steering rack, air suspension, and summer tires.

Drive Select is the electronic godhead that controls the A8's powertrain responses, steering weight, and suspension feel. The programmed Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic modes can toggle between sedate and dramatic; the driver-programmable Individual mode can live somewhere in between. The Drive Select system has gotten better, but the electric power steering rack in the A8 hasn't: it didn't have much feel in earlier versions of the A8 that we've driven and still works hard to overcome disparate sensations in other places of the car.

Comfort & Quality
If it’s more comfortable than the 2018 Audi A8, it probably has the words “La-Z-Boy” on it.

Luxury full-size sedans are built on a mission: comfort. Considering their high price, they’d better get it right.

Thankfully, the 2018 Audi A8 does that, and more.

We gave the A8 high marks for good front and rear seats, good interior cargo room, and excellent fit and finish.

Up front, the standard seats are adjustable in 18 ways, some are directions we’ve never heard of. The gorgeous hides cover soft padding that rests atop firm foundations—you can’t do wrong.

Upgraded Audi A8 4.0T models get even more adjustability (22 ways) and an in-seat massage feature that melts away traffic. (That package is available on 3.0T models as an upgrade.) The seats are adjustable for nearly any body type, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel makes comfortable any long trip.

All cars can be rigged with an executive package that adds rear-seat entertainment, massage, and cooled seats. On equipped models, the right-side position includes a footrest while the left-side seat includes massage and recline functions. A two-panel sunroof keeps the interior bright without sacrificing head room.

The A8’s trunk is acceptable, but not cavernous. At just 13.2 cubic feet, it’s not the biggest in the class, but it has a wide opening.
Riding in the A8 is supremely quiet and comfortable. Not much road noise creeps in around the A8’s body panels, but what little noise does make its way in, a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system can drown out. Wonderful.

Safety
No crash ratings here, but the Audi A8 is packed with advanced tech.

Federal and independent testers aren’t keen to ruin high-priced, low-volume luxo-barges.

We’re thankful for that.

We won’t assign a safety score to the 2018 Audi A8 because of that, but we’re comforted by the big sedan’s first-rate construction and available options.

The Audi A8 is built on an aluminum spaceframe that’s not only light, but also very strong. It features a full complement of airbags—front, knee, and rear side passenger—and standard traction control systems.

The 2018 Audi A8 is also equipped as standard with all-wheel drive, which is a useful safety feature.

Audi made a rearview camera standard on the A8 this year, bundled with front and rear parking sensors that help to park the big sedan.

Advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control are part of optional packages that don’t add too much to the bottom line—on some models they can be had for $1,500, which is a relatively good deal.

Features
The Audi A8 is luxurious, comfortable, and smart, but not yet smart enough to drive itself.

The 2018 Audi A8 meets all of its luxury full-sizer milestones: Concert-perfect stereo? Check. Regal thrones? Check again. Sharp, high-res display? Check. In any color under the sun? Yup. Self-driving tech? Um. Wait until next year?

For that reason, the Audi A8 gets a 9 out of 10. It’s not a bad score, but it can’t be any better until the sedan starts doing what the others nearly do.

This year, Audi makes available an executive package to 3.0T models that brings them closer in line to more expensive 4.0T versions with 20-inch wheels, 22-way adjustable seats, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display.

Base versions are hardly boring. Equipped with leather and navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, Bose speakers, and heated seats, the 2018 Audi A8 3.0T works hard for its $83,495 entry price.

From there, the Audi A8 can be equipped with lavish features such as cooled seats, a sporty rear differential, night-vision cameras, or a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system with 19 speakers and 1,400 watts of power.

Audi’s infotainment system is responsive, but not the easiest to use. The system, which Audi calls MMI, uses a rotating knob to click through menus and twist through radio stations. A numbered touchpad rests near it and can be used to input touch commands such as drawing phone numbers with your finger. Steering wheel controls and voice commands double up on the number of ways to change a radio station to four, but we’d trade them all for one: a useful touchscreen.

The system has its highlights, namely Google Earth satellite imagery when paired with a data subscription, but we’d prefer a sleeker system in the future.

Fuel Economy
Both engines in the 2018 Audi A8 earn similar fuel ratings—draw straws?

The 2018 Audi A8 is a full-size sedan powered by a V-6 or turbocharged V-8. Fuel economy was never going to be its selling point. But, considering its size and heft, it's not all that bad.

The 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 is rated at 19 mpg city, 29 highway, 22 combined. That rating is good enough for a 6 on our green scale.

The turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 doesn’t stray far from the ratings of the V-6. It earned a rating of 16/26/19 mpg, which makes opting for the V-8 an easier pick—at least if the $9,000 premium seems doable.

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